Golf Club celebrates 100 years

Rachael Le Goubin | Staff Photographer
Tom Potter tries his luck at the vintage putting competition.

Over these past seven weeks at the Institution, the Chautauqua Golf Club has teemed with enthusiasm over this landmark year. Last Sunday, that escalating excitement reached its crescendo with the Golf Club’s 100th birthday celebration.

On July 18, 1914, G.H. Dunlap filled out the first scorecard on what used to be an educational farm just west of the grounds. One hundred years later, Chautauqua Golf Club features 36 scenic holes overlooking the lake, a 25-acre practice and teaching facility and the same love of the game that inspired its construction.

To honor the club’s legacy as a cornerstone of the recreation pillar and the Chautauqua community, more than 100 members and other guests hiked up the hill for food, drinks and fond memories of long walks spent chasing a small white ball.

The members of the Golf Club’s board of governors emphasized the historic significance of the occasion and themed the party with nostalgic flair, including the entertainment and attire.

“The board of governors and all the staff did a great job of making everything fit and bringing meaning to the event,” said Andy Freay, director of recreation at Chautauqua. “Everything honored the club’s history appropriately.”

Pat Peters, vice president of the board of governors, organized the day’s events and served as master of ceremonies — while sporting a Victorian skirt and straw hat. She was joined by many others, including Golf Club General Manager Jack Voelker and board secretary Barbara Jones, who dressed in knickers and argyle.

Partygoers spent the afternoon feasting on farm-themed food, taking turns at the putting contest with hickory clubs, or watching “The Golf Game” episode of “I Love Lucy.” A historic display of pictures, scorecards from notable professionals, vintage clubs, course blueprints, newspaper articles and polished trophies all attracted a gawking crowd.

Jack Connolly Jr., president of the board of governors, presented letters from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, gushing about time well spent on the Lake and Hill Courses.

Afterward, Voelker read excerpts of Dave Turnbull’s newly published book, Chautauqua Golf Club.

The board also observed extraordinary moments in the Golf Club’s history, its rich Scottish heritage and notable individuals who walked the Lake Course fairways, by dedicating four commemorative plaques.

The day culminated with a speech from Chautauqua President Tom Becker, about the club’s contribution to the Chautauqua community and its commitment to engaging recreation. He honored the founders of the Club and those whose efforts made its first 100 years so extraordinary.

“It was a genuine event with a fantastic turnout,” Freay said. “Just like Chautauqua is not a typical community, Chautauqua Golf Club is not a typical golf course, and its history proves that. Now it’s up to us to make the next 100 years as memorable as the first.”